The metals and metal-related industries dominated Kentucky’s manufacturing in the late 1990s. The largest employers are the automotive and home appliance industries. The manufacture of automobiles and parts for the automotive industry accounted for nearly one-fourth of all the value added by Kentucky’s industries in 1996. Other leading manufactures include the making of chemicals, including chemicals for use by other industries, paints, plastics and resins, and adhesives; and the manufactures of industrial machinery, including heating and cooling equipment, computer peripheral equipment, conveyors, trucks and tractors used by industry, and air compressors.
Other industries contributing significantly to the state’s economy are food processing; printing and publishing; and the manufacture of electronic devices. The Louisville metropolitan area constitutes by far the state’s most important industrial center.
Beverages account for nearly one-fourth of the income generated by food-processing industries located in the state. The single most important beverage produced is bourbon, a whiskey that has been called Kentucky’s most distinctive product. Kentucky produces more whiskey than any other state. Whiskey distilling is carried on in many places, but the principal center is the Louisville area. Other centers are Owensboro, Frankfort, Lawrenceburg, and Bardstown.
Machinery and electrical equipment, including farm and textile machinery, transportation equipment, especially automobiles, and radio, electronic, and X-ray equipment, are manufactured in the Louisville area and in Covington, Lexington, Paducah, Owensboro, Georgetown, and Bowling Green. Ashland is an important center for heavy industry, particularly the manufacture of steel, coke, chemicals, oil products, and bricks. The manufacture of cigarettes and other tobacco products is concentrated in the Louisville area. This area makes much of the state’s metal products and chemicals. It is also the chief publishing and printing center.
Kentucky’s extensive coal reserves and abundant water supply provide the state with excellent resources for the generation of electricity. Thermal plants, fueled almost exclusively by coal, generated 97 percent of the electricity in 2006. Most of the electricity generated in the state is produced at publicly owned power plants, which include those operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Some 3 percent of electricity was produced at a number of hydroelectric generating stations in the state. Among the largest such stations are those at dams on the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee and Dix rivers. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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